Chevy 383 buildup? About $4,000. Ford SVO 514? Seven grand once you get it running. Same for the Mopar 500 show in this issue. Pretty spendy stuff, so we wouldn't feel like Car Craft if we didn't throw in at least one big engine for small bucks: a Buick 455 treated to an easy cosmetic and mechanical restoration for way under $1,000. It's just a spray-can rebuild, but there's nothing wrong with that if you start with a healthy engine, spend a lot of elbow grease cleaning it up, and add a few well-chosen power parts. This story will show you how to do just that and be proud of it. Before. After. The Buick 455 is a particularly good choice for a budget buildup like this, as we've seen even the low-compression '72 motors (like ours) run 13's in A-body Skylarks with perfect daily driveability and freeway-friendly rear gears. We'll put that theory to the test once we get this sucker running in our '65 Special wagon, and you can look for that story in a few months. We've had too many car buildups lately (like the budget Buster and El Cheapo) where the initial story didn't include drag testing because we thrashed too hard against the deadline, so we're not gonna run the Buick swap article until it posts a good number. Besides, that tricks you Buick guys in buying the mag for the next few months. Until then, dig how we made this greaseball shine. 1. You might be familiar with this 455's smoky burnout prowess if you witnessed it in action under the hood of our "Insane Fun with a Total Beater" (June '98) '72 Electra 225. The four-door deuce-an'-a-quarta relinquished its power before heading to the boneyard, but not before we took it to the coin-op car wash and squirted off 26 years of oil spooge. Once the engine was on the stand, we threw away all the junk we'd never need, like the A/C compressor, power steering pump, and all the smog garbage. 1. You might be familiar with this 455's smoky burnout prowess if you witnessed it in acti 2. We knew the 'Bu motor was good enough to clean up and swap into our '65 without a rebuild because it ran well in the Electra, and the original owner swore it had never been rebuilt. A compression test verified that nothing was too wasted, and all the plugs looked pretty happy too. However, check out how the 4, 3, 6, and 5 plugs are kinda dark. Funky. 2. We knew the 'Bu motor was good enough to clean up and swap into our '65 without a rebui 3. Next, we removed all the accessories we'd eventually reuse and kept track of which bolts went where. The desconging process began by using a gasket scraper to peel off the thick layer of caked-on Pennzoil frosting. The fun ended after the first hour of scraping, but the key to making a dirtball mill look like a fresh resto is in making it as clean as possible before painting. Scrape every nook and cranny over and over, and catch the crud in an inverted garbage can lid or you'll get it all over the ground, track it into the house, and your mom will yell at you. 3. Next, we removed all the accessories we'd eventually reuse and kept track of which bolt 4. Castrol Super Clean is the nastiest commercially available degreaser we've ever used--and that's a good thing! This stuff'll burn your skin, so we squirt it with latex gloves on and wear full facial protection. No kidding. Note that we've left on all the parts that will seal water from entering the engine and stuffed any open holes with rags. Between several dousings of Super Clean we still had to pick grease boogers from the crannies of the block and keep at it until it was spotless. Time spent now is crucial to the engine's final appearance. After the final hose-down, we unbolted the intake, valve covers, timing cover, and oil pan, then gave all the gasket surfaces a double-duty scraping. The freeze plugs were pretty much gonzo, so we removed them too. Our new kit from PAW didn't include the freeze plugs for the cylinder heads, so be forewarned that an extra trip to the parts store will be needed. 4. Castrol Super Clean is the nastiest commercially available degreaser we've ever used--a 5. Here's some new goop we just came across: Eastwood's PRE Painting Prep. Just squirt it on the surface to be painted, then wipe it off to remove any oils and other stuff or paint won't stick well. In the past we've used brake cleaner for this purpose, but the PRE prep seems to leave no residue, and Eastwood claims that it prevents flash rust for a few weeks. Works good--just use a lint-free rag. 5. Here's some new goop we just came across: Eastwood's PRE Painting Prep. Just squirt it 6. Before painting, we threw on the oil pan with a few bolts and went nuts with masking tape. Tech tip: Stick the tape right to the machined surfaces, then use a razor blade to trim the tape to the desired shape. Stuff wads of tape in the spark plug holes, and don't worry about masking the exhaust ports. 6. Before painting, we threw on the oil pan with a few bolts and went nuts with masking ta 7. We fogged the engine with Eastwood's Engine Paint in Ford/Chrysler Red, which is just a bit darker than the stock Buick Red (not available), but who's gonna notice? Our technique is to lightly mist the entire engine with paint before adding heavier layers; it seems to prevent fisheyes and runs. The sheen of the paint will be altered by how you spray it: A final thick coat sprayed close will give a smooth, shiny appearance. Spray from a bit more distance and you'll get a slightly flatter texture. We prefer the former. 7. We fogged the engine with Eastwood's Engine Paint in Ford/Chrysler Red, which is just a 8. While the engine was drying, we spent about an hour in front of a wire wheel on the bench grinder cleaning up the threads and the heads of all the old bolts. To finish 'em, we punched the bolts through a chunk of cardboard and squirted the heads with a few light coats of Eastwood's Underhood Black. The company's Chassis Black offers a shinier, more durable finish, but it's an epoxy and we're too impatient to wait for it to dry. Making the bolt heads black gives the engine a much more detailed look, far superior to painting the bolts engine color once they're in place. 8. While the engine was drying, we spent about an hour in front of a wire wheel on the ben 9a&b. We also spent lots of time with our Eastwood sandblaster--if you don't have a 'blaster, trust us, you need one. After chunking all the greasy, grimy gopher guts from these accessories, we blasted them and painted them with Underhood Black. The before-and-after is much more dramatic in person than in these photos. 9a&b. We also spent lots of time with our Eastwood sandblaster--if you don't have a 'blast 9b. 10. This motor will use stock iron exhaust manifolds for improved convenience, price, fit, and sound over headers for this mild driver. We rescued them with, again, the Eastwood sandblaster, then used a disposable foam brush to paint them with Eastwood's High Temp Coating in a new color: Cast Iron Gray. The coating gives a long-lasting as-new finish that cures with heat once the engine is running. 10. This motor will use stock iron exhaust manifolds for improved convenience, price, fit, 11. Now for the techincal part of the rehash: The stock timing chain was floppier'n a puppy-dog's ear, so we threw on a new Speed Pro unit. The Speed Pro performance chain was actually cheaper than the same-as-stock version, so guess which one we bought. The PN 220-4115 chain set is single-row but with four-degree-advance-and-retard keyways; we installed it straight up. Speed Pro PN 220-3115 is a double-row chain, if you prefer. According to Buick Performance Engines by Steven L. Dove (available through Poston Enterprises, and mandatory for any first-time Buick builder), all curent Buick three-keyway timing chains are mismarked: the 0-degree, straight-up keyway is actually 4 degrees retarded, so you have to install the chain on the keyway marked as 4 degrees of advance for it to actually be "straight up." We found this out too late to verify it with a degree wheel. 11. Now for the techincal part of the rehash: The stock timing chain was floppier'n a pupp 12. Whomever designed the Buick timing cover was sniffing glue--similar to an AMC design, the steel oil-pump gears in the soft aluminum housing were not a great idea. Again according to Buick Performance Engines, acceptable oil-pump-gear-to-wall clearance is 0.004 or less. If it's 0.008 or more, chuck it. You'll also find that corrosion has probably eaten the aluminum in the water passages. As a result, all the good housings were already harvested from our local junkyards. Buick specialist Poston Enterprises sells expensive new timing covers and cheaper good used units like the one we got (right). 12. Whomever designed the Buick timing cover was sniffing glue--similar to an AMC design, 13. To save the oil pump, we used Speed Pro gear kit (PN 224-519) and plate kit (224-518TP). The first kit includes new pump gears, check-valve springs, and gaskets, and the second is a steel plate that can be added if the aluminum thrust surface of the oil-pump cover has too many grooves worn in it. Buick specialists also offer several styles of long-gear pumps and deep covers for high volume. The arrow points to an oil-pump-cover-bolt location under the filter that you may overlook if you don't know it's there. Also, this type of oil pump should be packed with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) during assembly to make sure it will self-prime when the engine is fired. 13. To save the oil pump, we used Speed Pro gear kit (PN 224-519) and plate kit (224-518TP 14. To install a new Speed Pro neoprene front seal in the timing cover we had to file off the tangs that hold in the original rope seal. When installing the timing cover, we aligned the mark on the balancer with the timing mark that indicated 12 degrees BTDC, making sure the number-one cylinder was on the compression stroke. That way, all we had to do was install the distributor such that the rotor was pointing directly at the number-one terminal in the cap to set the initial timing at 12 BTDC for initial fire-up. Easy. 14. To install a new Speed Pro neoprene front seal in the timing cover we had to file off 15. Here's a new thing we learned about Buicks: Through '69 models, the 400/430 engines used a short-style water pump shown on the left; the '70-and-later 455s have the long style shown on the right. We converted our '72 engine to use the short pump, which makes the 455 fit better into early A-body cars. We asked an auto parts store for a '68 Riviera 430 water pump and got the right one. The old long-style alternator adjuster bracket can be maintained, but we needed to buy short-style pulleys. 15. Here's a new thing we learned about Buicks: Through '69 models, the 400/430 engines us 16. Before installing our new Edelbrock Performer intake, we found that Speed Pro had two listings for 455 intake gaskets. At left is the PN 260-4013 gasket, typically used with '70 blocks and heads without smog passages; at right is the smog-style gasket (PN 260-4023) that was required for our '72 engine. While we didn't need to remove the heads on our engine, also note that 455 water passages changed from '72 to '73, and the '73-and-later heads will leak water when used on a '72-and-earlier block unless you make some mods outlined in the Buick Performance Engines book. 16. Before installing our new Edelbrock Performer intake, we found that Speed Pro had two 17. Here's the view of the intake surface of the '72 smog heads with the air-injection holes indicated by arrows. The instructions with the Edelbrock intake indicate that these 5⁄16-inch holes need to be plugged when installing the Performer, which does not incorporate the cast-in injection rails as the stock manifold did. However, the holes only need to be plugged if using the early-style gasket with the late smog heads; if you use the later PN 260-4023 gasket, the smog holes will be sealed sufficiently. 17. Here's the view of the intake surface of the '72 smog heads with the air-injection hol 18. This will give you an idea of where the smog injectors are in the '72 intake, and also reveal why we couldn't bear to reuse the stock intake. It's huge, heavy, and ugly. The Edelbrock unit will save pounds and add performance. 18. This will give you an idea of where the smog injectors are in the '72 intake, and also 19. As with most intake swaps, we needed a few extra things to complete it. Foremost were new shorter bolts (the Buick uses overkill 9⁄16 intake bolts), plus a few 1⁄2-inch pipe plugs and a heater-hose connector. We normally prefer brass plugs instead of steel, because the steel eventually rusts and looks bad. Please don't use that pink heater hose either. It's bogus. Get black. Since the stock aluminum thermostat housing was corroded, we dug around the boneyard for a good one and found a clean iron housing on a '73 model. 19. As with most intake swaps, we needed a few extra things to complete it. Foremost were 20. All those trips to Pick Your Part failed to net us a Buick HEI distributor from a '74-and-later car, so we made sure the shaft wasn't too loose in our old points distributor and threw in some new points, a condensor, a cap, and a rotor. For the stock look, but with added performance, we had to have Jacobs Electronics' Energy Core resto wires. It's tough to find spiral-metal-core wires in black, but these are them. Not only that, the Jacobs Uni-Clips used to terminate the distributor end of the wires make them the easiest-to-assemble cut-to-length wire we've used. 20. All those trips to Pick Your Part failed to net us a Buick HEI distributor from a '74- 21. We also got a new Speed Pro fuel pump. If you got a double-roller timing chain, expect it's added width to rub on the arm of the pump. You may need to clearance the arm a bit, or just eliminate the manual pump and get an electric one. For a clean sleeper look that also helps keep the engine NHRA-legal, we were able to reuse the stock fuel hardline from the pump to the carb. It had to be rebent a bit to fit with the taller-than-stock Edelbrock intake. The carb is the stock 800-cfm Q-jet (note that '70 models used a smaller 730-cfm unit) that we simply cleaned up with Gunk carb cleaner since it ran fine. 21. We also got a new Speed Pro fuel pump. If you got a double-roller timing chain, expect 22. We converted the engine to use a 12SI, internally reglated 66-amp alternator instead of the wimpy externally regulated unit that came on our '65; Poston offers a conversion wiring harness to fit both the 455 engine and the newer alternator into the older car. We used the stock upper alternator bracket, but cut off about an inch that had a hole in it for the A/C compressor mount. Pep Boys had cut-to-length alternator spacers that we used for the lower mount. Those spiffy pulleys are March units from Poston designed to work with the short water pump. 22. We converted the engine to use a 12SI, internally reglated 66-amp alternator instead o 23a&b. Further tricks from Poston include the beefy, tall-style, cast-aluminum valve covers and the double-trick, two-piece, finned-aluminum oil pan. The valve covers require machine work to install a breather or an oil filler, and the cool pan was overkill for our stock engine. We intalled this stuff to make the motor look zoomie for the cover. (By the way, can you believe there's a Buick on the cover of Car Craft?) In reality, our sleeper mill uses the stock valve covers and oil pan that we sandbasted and painted. 23a&b. Further tricks from Poston include the beefy, tall-style, cast-aluminum valve cover 23b. 24. Here it is--the done deed. Well--nearly done, anyway. It's amazing how clean this looks, considering the grease-pit we started with. There's still some nickle-and-dime stuff left to do, then we'll drop it in the '65 wagon for some real fun. Look for it in a few months. CC 24. Here it is--the done deed. Well--nearly done, anyway. It's amazing how clean this look SOURCES Edelbrock Dept. 5.0 2700 California St. Torrance CA 90503 310-781-2222 www.edelbrock.com Poston 206 N. Main St. Atmore AL 36502 334/368-8577 Speed Pro P.O. Box 1966 Detroit MI 48235 www.goracing.com/federalmogul/ Eastwood 263 Shoemaker Road Pottstown PA 19464 1-800-345-1178 www.eastwoodco.com « | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | View Full Article By David Freiburger Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!